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By the Mountain Bound
By the Mountain Bound
By the Mountain Bound
eBook315 Seiten5 Stunden

By the Mountain Bound

Bewertung: 3 von 5 Sternen



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For five hundred years the immortal Children of the Light, einherjar and valkyrie, have lived together in the North of Valdyrgard. They were born out of the Sea, each with a shining crystal sword in his or her hand; they are Angels of Light created in the formation of a new world. But three have come before them, from the death-throes of the old world, Midgard: the world-girdling Serpent, Bearer of Burdens; the Wolf Fenris, eater of the Sun, who now takes the form of an einherjar; and his demon sister, stealer of souls.

The Children spend their days feasting, fighting, hunting, and guarding their human charges. But one dreadful day a woman is washed up from the sea, a Lady who is no mortal, though she is not valkyrie either. Thus begins the breaking of the Children of the Light, the tarnishing of their power, and the death of Valdyrgard.

By the Mountain Bound is a prequel to Elizabeth Bear's highly acclaimed All the Windwracked Stars, and tells the painful tale of love and betrayal, sorcery and battle, that led up to the day when Muire was left alone in the snow at the end of the world.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Erscheinungsdatum27. Okt. 2009
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Elizabeth Bear

ELIZABETH BEAR was the recipient of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 2005. She has won two Hugo Awards and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for her short fiction. Bear lives in South Hadley, MA. @matociquala

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Rezensionen für By the Mountain Bound

Bewertung: 3.1153846153846154 von 5 Sternen

52 Bewertungen6 Rezensionen

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  • Bewertung: 2 von 5 Sternen
    Make it 2.5 stars, maybe? I liked some of this quite a bit and was very eh on other things - especially the batshit decisions to DIE HORRIBLY everyone kept making, rather than using a modicum of sense and thinking of a solution. Like invoking some help from a being who could give it before it was all too late!

    Granted, this was a prequel to a book I haven't read yet, and I think she wrote that one before this one, so it makes sense that it would feel like a prequel, but on the last page I'm still left with the feeling of, "Okay...and?" which is a TERRIBLE thing to feel at the end of a book. *sigh*

    Again, not awful. Just disappointing because her Elizabethan stuff is so much better - I hope she'll do more in that era soon.
  • Bewertung: 4 von 5 Sternen
    The 3 1/2 stars isn't is more reflective of the fact that I read it singly, instead of as part of its trilogy. I'm trying not to read trilogies piecemeal - I already follow too many universes to keep effective track of all of them.And Norse mythology has never been a favorite of mine, though Bear manages to make the gods seem - almost human. Okay, I'm going to have to review this after re-reading it with the rest of the trilogy.
  • Bewertung: 3 von 5 Sternen
    Really just a fantasy book. The connecton with the previous bookin the series was tenuous, and there was none of the grittiness of that world. A disappointing book from an author I have enjoyed.
  • Bewertung: 4 von 5 Sternen
    I read "All the Windwracked Stars" last year and enjoyed it. This one? Not so much. For some reason it didn't seem as interesting as the previous. The attention is split between three characters - the warrior (Strifbjorne), the historian (Muire) and the wolf (Mingan) - which just becomes a little irritating by the end. While the characters where well developed, they seemed a little bit like the children they are often called, rather than 500+ year old survivors of Ragnarok.Had I read this 'prequal' first I may not have bothered with "All the Windwracked Stars". It did, however, encourage me to find a copy of it to re-read. A decent read, if a bit bland.
  • Bewertung: 2 von 5 Sternen
    I tend to read little in the way of pure fantasy. However, I thought enough of Elizabeth Bear as a writer to have a go at her recent “By The Mountain Bound”. The intent here is I believe for it to be an epic tale, and the writing is in parts like epic poetry. There is some beautiful prose in there, but I found myself getting distracted at times by an overabundance early on of hyphenated words … On the first page in a single sentence we have wood-red, smoke-gray and tarnished-silver. Often the hyphenation seemed to serve no purpose. I am guessing the intent was to set a mood. Well, it-didn't. It just-served to distract me from the-tale.The story never fully engaged me and the book took longer than normal for me to read as a result. Despite not loving this, I enjoyed much of the story which is about change, trust, loyalty, about death, about the end of the world, Ragnarök. Most of the focus is on three primary characters, The Wolf, The Warrior and The Historian. The relationship between two of the main characters Strifbjorn (The Warrior) and Mingan (the Grey Wolf) didn’t work for me. I did like Mingan as an interesting character on his own. He’s certainly the most richly drawn, and intriguing as well. I also liked the young historian Muire quite a lot. It gets a passing grade but I can’t really recommend it.
  • Bewertung: 5 von 5 Sternen
    Bear returns to the Norse-inspired fantasy world of last year’s “All the Windwracked Stars” with this prequel, set thousands of years earlier. As the story opens, Ragnarok has already occurred and the survivors—einherjar and waelcyrge (better known as Valkyries)—have fled the dead land of Midgard to a new world, where for 500 years they have assumed the responsibility of looking after the humans in this world, taking vengeance where vengeance is due. All this ends when Strifbjorn, the charismatic war-leader of the einherjar, finds a half-drowned woman on the beach. When she recovers, the strange woman…neither human nor waelcyrge…declares herself to be the Lady, the goddess whom the einherjar have awaited since the fall of Midgard. Proving her identity by easily defeating Strifbjorn’s secret lover and champion, the einherjar Mingan the Grey Wolf, the Lady begins to sow discord among the einherjar and waelcyrge, encouraging them in actions that they have long believed to be taboo and causing those who follow her to become the Tarnished, unable to access the Light within. Those who stayed true to Strifbjorn struggle to overthrow the rule of the false Lady, knowing even as they do so that it will likely come to outright war…and that if it comes to outright war, it is unlikely that any will survive it.Elegant, demanding, and vividly drawn, “By the Mountain Bound” would be a wonderful choice for lovers of mythology and fantasy alike.


By the Mountain Bound - Elizabeth Bear

In bondage now bides

The Wolf, ’til world’s end


The Wolf

Fear. I know the scent of old.

Einherjar sleep not if we are unwounded, but I have spent the afternoon in the smooth fork of a copper beech in a sort of daydream, contemplating the curve of a crimson sun settling behind the wooded Ulfenfell. A chill gilds air raw with hanging winter, the nearby sea, the musk of leaves. And a woman’s terror.

The scent lifts my hackles. A silken collar—an old fetter half-broken—galls my throat when I stretch too far, breathe too deep. I am accustomed. There is more news on the wind. Mortal woman. And a mortal man. They prey on their own.

I run the length of a horizontal branch broad as a horse’s back and drop to the leaf litter, steadying Svanvitr’s hilt with one hand. The pack wakes, rolling from crackling leaves like wood-red and smoke-gray and tarnished-silver shadows. They shake earth and dry grass from coats already silkening against frost, motes sparkling in slanting light. Milling around my legs, they grin.

Alas. Not my brothers, these, though I live among them in preference to the mead-hall, and the einherjar.

My gloves are in the hand I offer a bitch. She sniffs, allows the touch. Fingertips burrow through slick guard hairs and dense undercoat to brush skin beneath. When I touch her flesh, I can speak to her, she can speak to me. You need not come. I take the shadowed road.

She laughs at me. I draw on my gloves. Bound for where men are. Humans, I touch not.

Words for them.

Blood-scent soaks the air. There is a thing—an einherjar thing, not of wolves nor men—the swanning. Knowledge granted, and a task to complete.

If I were another einherjar, it might swan me now: East—and quickly. I am not as they. I am unique, older, not exiled but not accepted among them as I am among the pack. I became as they are, starlight made flesh, when I swallowed a sun.

They have the words of the Light to guide them. I have the scent. Blood on the wind, and fear.

I step into the shadow of the ponderous beech. And out the other side.

The place between one shadow and the next is cold and silent, wrought of firefly lights and dancing beliefs. A breath of ice. A stink of char. A dead world left behind.

I cross quickly.

Even here, the fear-scent lingers. Or perhaps it hangs only in my mind, as if borne on unworldish wings.

The shadow of an oak is my gate back to Valdyrgard. I hold my step and watch. A flaxen-haired maiden in a cloak dyed with bloodroot twists away from a sour-smelling man of middling size and age. She has spilled her basket, bread and weedy late wildflowers. Her lip is split. He has blacked her eye.

I see no need to draw Svanvitr. Furling my cloak over my shoulder, I clutch. One gloved hand catches the man’s wrist, snaps. He releases the girl. She staggers. A knife into the other hand, and I take it, cast it to the cool waiting forest. It rings on stone, rustles through leaves.

I force him to his knees.

Now comes the Light. It streams from my eyes, my fingertips. Fills my mouth. The cord under my gray woolen collar clenches like a hand, but the Light is stronger than broken chains, and I was stronger than them too, when it mattered. The girl scrambles back, twig-crunch and rustle, too foolish in her fine wove cloak to run.

I mark thee. I touch my gloved thumb to my tongue and draw the letter thorn on his forehead in silver-blue starlight. "With Thurisaz, which is the mark of strife. Do thou no more harm to innocents, or I shall know of it."

He whimpers. I squeeze. My dark braid falling forward strikes him across the face. Is all plain between us?

Frozen until he remembers to nod. Then I loose him. He falls back, scrabbling like a cat, pissing himself before he flees. The girl hunches between oak-roots.

Fear not.

She draws away, though I offer a smile.

Her mouth shapes words. Who are you?

Mingan. Called the Grey Wolf. I am einherjar, a child of Light. The name soothes her not. But I am not my warrior brothers: I am slight where they are broad, dark where they are fair, old where they are young.

I am not meant for comfort. I should have stayed a wolf in more than name.

I close the space between us, drop my hand upon her head. This is my wood. I dwell here.

She draws herself closer and smaller. I turn and step back into the shadows that are my home. She does not hear me sigh.

I’d stay and see her home through the twilight, but she would thank me not. I have other business to attend in the morning, and work before. With my scent on her, the maiden will come to no harm in the wood.

The night is used in the hunt; when the sun rises the deer on my shoulder is a buck, three points—young and tender, caught with my own hands. I bring him to the wolves in apology: the next night, I will not run with them across the moon-soaked mountains. I am summoned.

They dine on well-bled meat while I take myself to Strifbjorn’s mead-hall where the einherjar gather. I do not count the days among the wolves, but I attend when my brothers call. I walk the valley road, not the shadowed one, passing under trees in the short cold morn. Patches of frost linger in the shadows, but the mist coils off the land, burned by the sun overhead. I glance upward, some memory I cannot quite reconstruct raised by the tug of the cord about my throat.

Mountain-clutching trees break above a hillocked green meadow, which sweeps down a gentler slope south and east until the flank of the mountain plunges into the sea. Close to the lip stands the mead-hall. It is built as long as two ancient pines grow tall, solid of seasoned logs and shingled bark. The sea lies at my right hand and before, the mountain at my back; the meadow gives way to birch and poplar to the left.

A pale form arrows across the sky, plunging furled by the turf-roofed mead-hall. A thing like a two-headed stallion stands in the midmorning light, tossing his horns and mantling those giant wings. A slender figure, clad in white, slides down his shoulder; she acknowledges my approach—but barely—with a raised hand, turns and strides into the hall.

My brethren arrive for the feast and the council. For me, it is no homecoming.

Not until I enter the door of the mead-hall, and an elk-shouldered shape steps over the fire trench to meet me. My braid is silver-black where his is like winter butter, but his eyes are gray as mine and as full of starlight.

Mingan! Strifbjorn embraces me. His clasp is iron bands, fingers that would break mortal bones clenching on my forearm, his other arm falling around my back.

I return the clasp, looking up to see his smile. A bear-fur cloak broadens him that needs no broadening, the pelt grizzled silver over rich brown. It contrasts with the swan-white shirt and trews. At his hip, Alvitr’s bronze hilt matches Svanvitr’s.

Pine-scent rises from the strewn branches, mingled with the smell of cold fires and hot honeyed ale. Strifbjorn does not flinch from the heat of my hand through the glove.

Strifbjorn, my brother. You are well? I smile to see the light in his eyes flash, and he does not turn from it.

His voice drops. Very. He leads me to a seat near his, at the south end of one of the long tables. On the left, below him along the bench. We will share our trencher. The great gilt chair on the north wall sits empty. Our Cynge is not with us.

He never has been, but I taught them to keep his chair ready, and the Lady’s at the south end of the mead-hall.

The waelcyrge cluster at one end of the hall, around the bride. Menglad, who wears a red far more pure in shade than the muddy carrot-color of the blond girl’s cloak.

One of them leaves her sisters and brings us mead in horns, bowing her head when Strifbjorn’s fingers brush her hand. She is the little one, Muire, with the darkest hair, golden-brown as buckwheat honey. Her eyes also slide from mine, but it is not modesty that drives her to turn away. Strifbjorn is fair and handsome, his prowess unmatched in renown. As long as he remains unmarried, the Daughters of the Light vie for his regard.

Mine they avoid—for I am Mingan the Grey Wolf, who walks alone, who acts alone, who does not hear the voice of the Light in his ear. The children—except Strifbjorn and perhaps Yrenbend—fear me.

It is not their weird to seek understanding of things that shake the pattern of their days. Except perhaps Muire, who is a blacksmith and a poet, which are not such separated things as might seem. She writes history. I would she did not fear me. I would she might ask what I know.

I remember things—some shadowy, some crisp—that took place before the children, einherjar and waelcyrge, were sung out of the starlight on the ocean and in turn sang the mortal creatures from the stones. I know of only three old enough to remember another world, and of those I am the one who walks among the children of the Light.

I drain my nectar-scented mead, and the smell brings remembrance. A fetter, a sword, a scorching heat, the taste of blood. Pain, inside and without. The scent of a man I trusted as I have trusted none other, save Strifbjorn. The scent of a man who betrayed. I remember these things, but not with a man’s understanding.

I recall them as a wolf might. But so my brothers name me.

You are distant, my brother. It is not Strifbjorn speaking—he has turned to the side, listening to an einherjar who has come up on his right. It is the waelcyrge Muire, the chooser of the slain, who has returned with more mead.

She meets my eyes for a long, quiet moment before she glances away, still not gazing at Strifbjorn. I witness the longing in how she refuses to look at him, and I see his denial of it in the stiffness of his shoulders as he bends closer to his welcome distraction. He is trapped, my brother, in the expectations of his role—and the mistakes we both have made.

I sorrow, my sister, I say to her at last, continuing to examine her clear gray irises at an angle.

She is, I have said, an odd one, not so unlike the other waelcyrge as I am unlike my chosen brothers, but unlike enough. There is a thoughtfulness in her small nose and pointed chin that I am unused to seeing in the children of the Light. She collects herself, and I am reminded that she fears me. But she speaks out around the fear. Why do you sorrow?

This softest and most exact among us—a sparrow hawk. You’re the skald, I say. You tell me.

Her face muddles. She stammers and flees to the cross-bench with her sisters, those who have so far arrived.

The hour is early still.

The Historian

Menglad was married on a day late in fall in the five hundred and seventy-first year of my immortality, the five hundred and seventy-first year of the world. And the Grey Wolf joined us for the wedding. He was not a stranger in our midst, but neither was he a commonplace. Instead, he came like a raven on the storm, to festival, to weddings, to council of war when war came upon us.

I remember it well. I remember the night because I was the one who served him—him, and Strifbjorn, whom I loved. The other waelcyrge did not wish to wait upon the Wolf, so I walked the length of the shield-hung hall, a horn of mead in each hand.

I remember the night very well, for it was the beginning of the end.

Strifbjorn, disdainful as always of his sisters, barely turned when I brought his mead. The Wolf . . . after draining the mead horn, he studied me with that disconcerting gaze, a frown on a face one might more expect to see hewn from a mountainside. I could not make my eyes meet his. A mortal thrall, captive of war, brought me new horns of drink, and Mingan’s gloved hand lingered on mine for a moment more than propriety demanded when I handed him the new one. His flesh burned hot as forged metal through the gray leather. I thought of sunlight on dark fabric.

There were stories, of why he burned. I stammered in answer to his question, the hot blush rising. He released my hand; I fled back to the cross-bench, the trestle table and my sisters at the north end of the hall.

It was a long walk beside the fire trench, under banner-hung roof beams lost in the dark high ceiling. It seemed every eye in the hall watched my flight, although I knew from the murmurs that my brethren were engrossed in their gossip, renewing acquaintances. Nonetheless, I caught my skirts about me like the shreds of my composure and hurried to my place among the women.

Menglad, called the Brightwing, reached from under her crimson wedding veils and caught my mousy-colored braid. Herfjotur says her steed says the Wolf desires you, Muire. She giggled, gesturing to the proud-nosed waelcyrge on her left.

They all were watching. I raised an eyebrow at the bride, amber-haired and fairer-skinned than I, her sword slung properly at her hip rather than across the shoulders as mine must be to keep from dragging. Skeold slid down the bench to the right that I might sit beside Menglad. I gathered my wide skirts, lifting them clear of my boots as I ascended from the scented pine branches littering the floor, onto the step where the women’s bench rested. Turning, I allowed the silk to flare, the snow-pale surcote contrasting with the spangled midnight-blue kirtle.

My clothing matched that of my sisters, though they were taller and more golden. Gathered around Menglad in her crimson and gold, we resembled jays mobbing a cardinal.

The groom had not yet arrived, nor had most of the einherjar. Perhaps four hundred of my brethren. Half the number that would fill this, our largest hall. They sat along the benches or walked, chattering. Two extra trestles, running the length of the hall, held the overflow.

I leaned close to Menglad. The Wolf could have his pick. He has no need of such as I.

I saw by the gleam in her eye that she was teasing me. He’s never offered for anyone, she said. Perhaps he’s waiting for someone to notice him back.

I chuckled. If he fancied me, he would speak to Yrenbend. Or Strifbjorn—they’re close as shield-mates.

The mocking Light was still flickering behind the storm-blue of her eyes. Are you insinuating that all those waelcyrge who sigh over Strifbjorn must compete with the Wolf for his passions?

Strifbjorn is waiting for something. And the Wolf—either he prefers to be alone, or the one he wants is bound to another. I grew uncomfortable, shifting in my seat. And strong as they are, they can do as they like. Who would dare censure them? I wanted the subject changed. It was too close to mockery.

But Menglad always was rash, sharp and bright as a chipped glass blade. She shivered, her eyes on the Wolf, and kept talking. Aye. But his prowess and courage aside, who could be truly glad to go to that wild bed, and share him with his mistress, Darkness?

There was no answer to that. I watched the one black-brindled head among the golden as it bent close to Strifbjorn’s. We dined only for pleasure; we slept only when hurt. We came together, my brothers and sisters and I, in the face of war or the cause of celebration: not as we used to, for the sheer joy of singing the world into being. Back before men were made, and creation was complete.

But that night was a wedding, and there would be a feast in the hall. And after the feast, there would be fighting.

Oh, it would be fine.

Are you nervous?

Menglad gave me a sidelong look behind her veils. Nervous?

About the wedding night. Her eyes behind the veil were more blue than gray. The starlight that suddenly filled them was tinted silver.

She leaned aside and dropped her voice. Shall I tell you a secret, Muire? Of all of us, I believe you can keep one.

I am a historian, after all. The only secrets I whisper are those of the dead.

She pursed her lips; it smoothed her brow. You are not like the rest of us, Muire. I do not envy you. But I do not know what we would be without your voice.

I brushed her strangeness away with my left hand. You were about to give me a secret.

She took a breath, licking her lips moist. I’ve been to Arngeir’s bench, she whispered, leaning so her veil hid the shape of her words against my hair.

In the mead-hall? I couldn’t imagine how she kept that secret. Despite the dark of night and the averted eyes of politeness, one notices such things as a shared niche. Especially when the benches are not often used for sleeping.

Tonight they would be, however. Used for sleeping, and for other things. I might spend the night in the field, or on the mountainside.

She shook her head. We’ve met in secret. I’m sure Strifbjorn knows, but as Arngeir offered for me, there has been no scandal. He can be kinder than he seems—Strifbjorn, I mean.

I leaned closer, speaking so softly she must have strained to hear. What’s it like? And have you . . . have you shared the kiss yet?

We decided to wait. It seemed safer: what if something happened? Before we were wedded, I mean. We’d both be . . .

. . . unmarriageable. Yes. It was one thing to marry a widow, knowing you would be taking on a bit of another as well. Different entirely to join with someone, expecting to find oneself half of a whole, and discover the taint of a third already woven into the bonding.

She picked up her thread after a moment of silence. As for the other . . . Well, it hurts. At first. But it’s a . . . good sort of hurt. Not to be feared. Much less than a sword-cut.

I shook my head. I am content with your reports. Over her shoulder, I caught a sneering glance from tall, fair Sigrdrifa, who I knew also coveted Strifbjorn’s hand.

I stood and excused myself with fortuitous timing, for as I took horns of mead from the thralls, more of the einherjar began to arrive—Arngeir’s party, but not yet the groom himself. We seated them across the fire trench from Strifbjorn.

My sisters scurried to assist me, leaving Menglad stranded on the cross-bench in her trappings of crimson and gold, with a wide divided skirt. She seemed small and alone when I glanced back; I wondered at her courage in the face of the great unknown—her marriage, her bonding, her future as half of a larger thing than herself.

I shook my head, and turned my attention to the task of carrying the honey wine.

Some time later, when the drinking and the revelry were underway, Arngeir arrived. I was still on my feet, distracting myself from the Wolf’s stare and Menglad’s attempts at merriment before the crude jests of our brothers. I met Arngeir with a horn of mead before he was well into the room.

My sister’s husband-to-be was tall as any of my brothers, and more handsome than most. Clad in red like the bride, he strode in as if claiming the hall, his golden braid bobbing down his back. As I raised the horn, I heard the scrape of a bench. On the far side of the fire trench Strifbjorn stood.

Will you drink a guest-cup, traveler? I asked.

I will, maiden. Arngeir took the horn, drained it and gave it back.

As warm horn slid into my curled fingers, Strifbjorn called out.

Who comes to my hall?

Arngeir winked at me. Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed the Grey Wolf rising, coming forward at Strifbjorn’s left flank. On his right was Yrenbend, my favorite brother, lean and ascetic in his shirt and trousers of immaculate white.

One who seeks a wife, Arngeir responded.

There is a waelcyrge here who awaits a husband. Strifbjorn glanced down the hall at Menglad, who had risen from the cross-bench and stood surrounded by our sisters, a last red berry on a snow-covered bush. She swept the length of the hall, the train of her divided skirts and her veil rustling across the pine branches. Sister, Strifbjorn said, his voice the essence of courtesy. Will you have this man to husband?

She drew herself up straight and proud, examining Arngeir with the critical eye of a shrewd farmwife about to purchase a stud horse. She looked along her nose at him, and I could see her fighting both a smile and a shiver. Strifbjorn stepped closer to me. I smelled the clean woodsmoke scent of his skin . . . and then the rank animal musk that seemed to hang around the Wolf like his gray cloak, that self-colored dark charcoal wool no other

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